Hispanic Illinoisans only group to fully recover from COVID-19 job losses

Hispanic Illinoisans only group to fully recover from COVID-19 job losses

Although Hispanics were one of the groups hardest hit by pandemic-related job losses, 85,000 more Hispanic Illinoisans were employed in December 2021 compared to December 2019. Hispanic women are driving their recovery.

While over 230,800 jobs are still missing in Illinois compared to late 2019, Hispanic Illinoisans have seen the one of the strongest jobs recoveries among racial and ethnic groups.

Employment increased among Hispanic Illinoisans by 8.7%, or 84,944 jobs, during the pandemic. They not only recovered, but surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels.

Hispanic women were the primary drivers of recovery for the group, with employment increasing 70,846 jobs (+17.7%) compared to December 2019. Hispanic men saw their job counts increase by 14,097 (+2.4%) during the same period. Employment increased more for Hispanic men than for Black or white non-Hispanic men in Illinois.

COVID-19 and state-mandated lockdowns served to widen pre-existing racial gaps in Illinois, causing heavier job losses among Black Illinoisans.

Black Illinoisans have fallen the farthest behind. Their employment is down 10.4% overall, accounting for 73,433 missing jobs.  Black men in Illinois are still missing 33,829 (-10.4%) of their pre-pandemic jobs, while employment of Black women in Illinois is down 10.3%, missing 39,605 of their pre-pandemic jobs.

Across the board, employment of white Illinoisans also remains down (-7.8%) with 307,494 jobs missing compared to late 2019. Employment of white men remains down 7%, missing 140,362 jobs, and white women are down 8.5%, missing 167,131  jobs.

Smaller subsets of the population who identify as Asian, native, or multi-racial also experienced strong employment growth from December 2019-December 2021, adding more than 65,184 jobs (+13.3%). However, growth among just one or two communities isn’t enough to improve outcomes across the Illinois labor market.

Illinois is experiencing one of the slowest employment recoveries in the nation and it is the worst among its Midwestern neighbors. Illinois' early and long-lasting COVID-19 mandates slowed the state’s employment recovery compared to neighboring states, which enacted restrictions later and repealed them sooner.

Illinois has seen record-breaking population loss because of severe restrictions, service declines and high taxes. About one-third of workers missing from Illinois’ workforce are older workers who retired and likely will not return.

Population losses further threaten Illinois’ recovery in 2022.

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